Let me preface this by saying that this is not a full fledged review, but rather some observations from my first four days inside the game world.  The review is still at least a few days off, and I’d like to make sure I get the whole guild experience for it as well – but for now I can chronicle what I’ve been through, what I’ve done, and what I’ve seen.  This of it as my adventurer’s journal; a telling of the adventures that I’ve been on, and something you can use to gauge if you’ll be interested in the game after all.

The first step after setting up the basic account stuff, was to select a server – and let me tell you there are a TON of servers right now.  In all honesty, there wasn’t much of a question for me of what server to get on – I had been listening to “The Instance: The Old Republic Edition” since its inception, and decided that I would join Keller’s Void with them so I might have a chance to meet up with the hosts (hasn’t happened yet).  Just a quick FYI, if you don’t listen to it and you like game related podcasts, you should give it a shot, as I’ll be referencing that cast throughout this writing.  Now Keller’s Void (and ironic name since my girlfriend’s last name is Keller, and I’ve been able to make many “adult” references to Keller’s Void) is a server that has a LOT of the biggest guilds on it – AIE, Not Safe for Wookies, GAF, and Rebel Squadron to name a few – so it’s pretty much heavily populated all the time.  Before the actual launch I was only seeing five minute queue times, but now I see forty-five during peak times.  Not a big deal – that’s to be expected right after launch.  On a positive note, I haven’t had a single bit of lag once in the game, so they really have their netcode down pat.

Next came setting up my character – now I didn’t really research anything when I went into this (I actively kept out of the Beta), and wanted to go with what “felt right” to me.  I had initially thought on Bounty Hunter because the guys at The Instance: TOR were dead set on how bad ass they would be.  I also had played a Bounty Hunter throughout my years in Galaxies – however I played a Rodian Bounty Hunter, so as soon as I saw that Rodians weren’t a race option I decided on a different route.  As much as I like Force Lightning, I had to go Sith Inquisitor with a Pureblood Sith as my race.  Now I have to say, while I understand limiting the races that you can start as, I really was upset at only having such a limited number of choices, especially when races like the Trandoshan are in the game, but not playable.  It’s a small irritation though, and one that will hopefully be addressed in future expansions.

With my Inquisitor Caldaron created, I set off on my journey into the (for me) unknown.  After watching the epic opening cinematic, I was deposited on Korriban to begin my story – and the story started out great.  I had never seen such a personal story (and FULLY voiced mind you) in an MMO before.  Normally there’s just a small cookie cutter story to get you going, and then you’re on your own (at least in the ones I’ve played – I’ve still never played WoW), so it was refreshing to be presented a good single player experience.  The dialogue wheel – a staple from BioWare games – is also a great touch, and really helps fleshing out the story and making it your own.

Quest after quest I went on – running and running.  Throughout these four days I’ve done a crapload of running.  I actually went and paid the money to upgrade my press edition to the Digital Deluxe edition, because it came with a vehicle – only to find that the vehicle was level locked to level 25 minimum (warning to those thinking you won’t have to run much then).  At any rate, the first thing I did after reading a recommendation on the AIE forums was to go to the fleet right away and get crew skills, and let me tell you waht – I’ve become a rich man since that.  I picked up slicing, artifice, and archeology as my three – the latter two to make lightsabers, but the first for pure credit gains.  At level fifteen, I was running around with almost 100k credits just because of good slicing payouts, and while it meant soloing a lot of the time, it was worth sending my companion away for the cash.

There are neat little things to get you to explore the worlds out there called “datacrons” which give you a permanent bonus to your attributes, and they’ve become my new obsession.  There’s a limited number on each world (I’ve found three on Hutta, three on Korriban, and five on the Dromund Kaas – as I just got my star ship though, I haven’t been anywhere else), and finding them is a huge sense of accomplishment.  I’m sure that there’s guides online to finding them, but it’s so much fun to do it on your own here.  Besides ones that give the stat boosts, there are also others that give you “matrix shards” and I’m hoping to find where to use those at soon.  While Star Wars: Galaxies might have had a lot more area to explore on its worlds, they didn’t have things like this (only points of interest) to encourage deep exploration.

I’ve been able to get into a number of parties to do things like Warzones (PvP instances that are a hell of a lot of fun) and Flashpoints (instanced “dungeons” with some decent loot) and something really important to note that the game doesn’t do a good job of explaining is how to get “social points”.  You see, there are a number of different ranks that control the gear your character will get besides their level.  Dark and Light ranks, Valor rank, and Social rank all contribute to you being able to equip certain things.  For the longest time I had a quest that required me to get something that required “Social Rank 1″, and while I had partied with people on my starting planet I never got any points for it.  The reason for that, is because Social Points are awarded when you’re in a conversation with other people in itthat means that while you may have fought with people to finish a mission, unless you watch the end dialogue with them you won’t be considered to be “social”.

I still have a LOT of game left – I’ve just hit 18, and haven’t completed “Act 1″ yet, but I’m hoping I can send the kids to their grandparents for a few days here (and maybe the old lady will go shopping) so I can power through at least one story before writing the full review.  I also have to experience the whole crafting system, which is super deep in and of itself from what I’ve seen…and that whole guild thing – I really am looking forward to getting in one for that.  Who knows, once I finish with Caldaron’s story, I might just go and make a fat Twi’Lek (yes, the game lets you make fat characters which is great) Bounty Hunter after all just for the fun of it.  I know I’ll eventually get through all eight stories – but that’s a long way in coming.

If you’re in Keller’s Void, hit me up with a friend request and I’ll be sure to accept it, and check back in a few days or so for the full review – unless I decide to do another entry like this for the next Act.  Until then though, may the Force be with you.